Friday, March 15, 2013

The Emerald Tablet by Joshua Silverman

I received this one for review directly from the author. A fantasy/sci-fi with Egyptian and Greek mythology sounded right up my alley.
The book is loaded with a lot of different plot arcs and characters. The major characters are: Leoros (a 13 year old boy who has the markings of an ancient prophecy), Leoros’ parents Camilla and Alex (two adults living in the real world, Egypt on an archeology dig), Atlantia (a slave girl from the world of the prophecy), Kesi and her sister Shirin (two daughters of an evil villian to end all evil villains), and Pythos (a powerful priest whose been training the future priests of his world in how to use their powers.
Leoros’s parents discover some pretty ancient, serious find on their dig in Egypt. And before Leoros knows it, he goes through a portal to a different world, a world where special priests train from childhood how to harness energy and defend their people. It’s also a world with a hierarchy that involves slavery, and an ancient feud between good and evil.
Pythos finds Leoros and immediately tests out his theories that he is in fact the one from the prophecy of the emerald tablet (an artifact Leoros’ mother had recently found). My favorite part of the book involves Leoros training with the other, much older (though certainly not more mature) priests in training. There’s fighting, competition, magic, and escaping the temple to hang out with a certain slave girl. And this was all fun! It sort of reminded me of Dragon Ball Z mixed with Harry Potter and Star Wars, and I wish this section lasted longer.
Soon everything turns upside down as the ultimate war looms closer. There’s a big betrayal, plenty of double crossing, some confusing words from the Gods (gotta love Athena!), a little romance, and plenty of magical energy induced battle scenes. It all pretty much comes down to the ultimate battle scene where everyone’s lives are on the line and it’s all up to our young main character to save the day. Everything followed the classic teen fantasy story line. Between the chosen one elements, the big betrayal, the death of a mentor, etc, the whole thing was rather predictable.
However, I kind of liked the predictability. The author definitely had this all planned out way in advance, and knew what he was doing. You could tell the author loves classic fantasy novels because this definitely shines through in his writings. And sometimes I want a nice, classic type fantasy/adventure! I certainly loved the Egyptian and Greek elements to the story! I’m not used to reading a lot about Egyptian mythology and it was nice to see a little of something new.
There were two little things nagging me: 1) there was a little too much going on. And 2) I have no idea what age group I could recommend this novel for. I loved the combining of different worlds. I super loved all the mythological elements. I loved the fighting scenes and I loved getting to know the bad guys. What I would cut out would be all the scenes with the parents. They just did not add anything good to the story for me overall.  I ended up skimming pretty much all the scenes that centered on them. And then the romance scene with them almost made me stop reading the book completely. I literally put the book down and wasn’t sure if I’d finish it after that scene. No young adult would pick up a book with a love scene going on between the two parent characters.
This leads to my whole issue of audience. The main character is 13. He trains with people in their 20’s. One of the beginning chapters involves a young woman using her body (rather painfully) to sleep with an older man and to get him in the right position to kill him.  Granted, this scene kind of rocked in a super awesome spy movie kind of way. But, would I include this in a book starring a 13 year old? Probably not.
Also the slave girl who is close to the main character’s age, almost gets raped and does get molested in one scene, before her powers truly kick in. And the overall way the author writes and deals with sex was not very positive. Women used it to kill their targets and to get men (even brothers) to duel it out with each other. With the amount of sex mentioned in this novel, I would assume it was an adult book, yet the main character is 13 and still innocent enough to be playing with action figures in the start of the novel, and singing himself lullabies his parents used to sing to him, to calm himself down.
Ordinarily this story would go big with a young adult audience. I know so many Percy fans would love the plot of the book, but I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for them. And vice-versa, I can see a lot of adults not really wanting to read about a 13 year old going through all the typical YA fantasy plot lines.
I did enjoy reading this book. It was certainly unique. It’s book 1 in a 7 part series, and I would like to see where everything goes and how the main character handles the situation at the very end. And I guess I’d have no problem recommending this one to bloggers like me with similar likes. I just wish I could recommend it to a younger audience. And I wish less focus was spent on the parents. I give it a 7/10.

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